So you want to start quilting, huh? That’s awesome! Let me be one of the first to welcome you to the quilting community. Quilting can be slightly overwhelming but don’t worry you’ve got this. There are some basic quilting tools that you need to get started. Quilting can be an expensive hobby but I have options for you no matter what your budget is for tools. You only need eleven tools to get started and if you’ve done any sewing in the past you probably have many of these tools already in your sewing kit. Let’s go shop for quilting tools!!
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Table of Contents
Before we get started there are a couple of things that you need that I’m not covering in this post. They aren’t really quilting tools but they are needed to make a quilt. The first is the fabric. The pattern that you pick for your project will cover how much fabric you need. If you want to learn more about the fabric that is on the market I cover the difference here. I highly recommend taking the few minutes it will take you to read about the difference in fabric so you get the quality of quilt fabric that you want and need for your project.
You will also need a sewing machine. Here at The Quilting Room with love all sewing machines both new and old. We have a list of recommendations, Best Sewing Machine for Quilting. You’ll be able to find a sewing machine no matter what your budget is.
My general rule of thumb when buying quilting tools is to buy the best that you can afford. There’s a lot of great quilting tools out there at all price points. You can always replace tools with more expensive items as your budget allows and as your skills grow. You’ll notice throughout the post that I have recently upgraded several of my tools to Quilter’s Select brand of tools. I am in no way compensated for the tools or my opinions of them. I truly use these tools and have been making the switch after getting to play with them at my local quilt shop.
Quilting Notions Needed For Quilting
Notions are consumable items. You’ll eventually have to replace them because you are going to use them up. That doesn’t mean you should cheap out on them. You need decent-quality notions. Cheaply made notions can make for headaches and frustration. When you are frustrated you are more likely to walk away from quilting. Decent quality doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune either though.
There are three basic types of pins on the market, all-metal, metal with a plastic head, and metal with a glass head. Skip all-metal ones. They are great for garment construction but not for quilting.
Plastic head pins have been the standard in quilting for years. They come with flat heads and with round heads. They are cheap and easy to find. My mom used them though for years. They are not my preferred pins though. The reason is that the heads melt when you accidentally iron over them. Not that anyone would iron over a pin on purpose but it happens and then you have a mess.
I spend a little more and go with glass head pins. I use 1 ⅞” pins. A lot of glass head pins are shorter but I like the length of these. I bought a box of 100 about three years ago. I have tossed a few due to bending but I still have plenty to use. Bending pins and melting the heads are the reasons you will have to replace the pins from time to time. You will also need to purchase a pin cushion to hold your pins for you or make a pin cushion.
Thread can bring up a lot of debates. Please take a moment to read this article from Superior Threads, it does a wonderful job of explaining how thread and fabric work together. From there make your own choice about the type of thread you are going to use. My mom used Maxi-Lock thread. It’s affordable and comes in a lot of colors. You can see it in some of my demos on the blog. I typically use the Aurifil thread line. Aurifil is 100% cotton thread. Aurifil can be purchased in many quilt shops, on Amazon, Fat Quarter Shop, and even Sewing Machines Plus
Needles & Bobbins
Needles and bobbins would also fall under notions. I don’t cover those because those are dependent upon the type of machine you use. While the majority of machines take a 15×1 needle and a class 15 bobbin there are machines that take something different. Please follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for those.
If you have a vintage machine and don’t know what you need to buy please reach out and we will do our best to get you pointed in the right direction. I prefer Schmetz or Klasse needles. Unless the manual specifies you must use X brand of needles the brand doesn’t matter. You want a quality needle though. There are rumors out there that if you have a Singer machine you must use a Singer needle and that is not true at all. I do purchase the majority of my bobbins from Sewing Machines Plus. They carry bobbins for old and new machines.
Tools are something that doesn’t have to be replaced as often. Over time things will wear out but it won’t be as often as the notions above. So these are the things we invest just a little bit more money in because we don’t want them to wear out as quickly as some of the cheaper products.
There are two kinds of scissors I keep in my sewing room. I keep a pair of dress shears and a small pair of scissors. The dress shears aren’t used a lot. They are there to help break down shirts and jeans. The small scissors are what I use the most. Some people will use thread snips and I have no problem with the snips. My mom used them and I have used them as well. I switched to a 6-inch pair of scissors because they do more. Not only can I clip my threads but I can also trim off dog ears as well. It is truly your preference what you want to keep beside your machine.
Here’s something I don’t suggest spending a lot on. Don’t go over about $50. I have not seen anyone report that the irons that cost more than that last any longer than the cheaper ones. I currently use a Hamilton Beach iron. I’ve had great luck with them. Though I do like the features on the Oliso irons and have used one before at quilt retreats. You will also need an ironing board or ironing mat.
This is the first tool we need for fabric cutting. It’s also one of those quilting tools we are going to spend a bit of money on. Cutting fabric with a rotary cutter makes your life so much easier than cutting your pieces with scissors. A good cutting mat helps to save your blades on your rotary cutter.
I used an Olfa cutting mat that Mom bought and I used it for years as well. It just got worn out. It got used for probably 15 years before it needed to be replaced. I replaced it with a Quilter’s Select Mat. This was a great replacement, I’ve been using it for a few years now and it still looks great.
Large mats that cover big tables must be purchased locally. They cannot be rolled for shipping which means shipping costs a lot. They are not self-healing mats like the other two that I linked. That means that will have nicks and such in them from cutting. The big mats are great for cutting large pieces of fabric down to usable sizes.
They come in four standard sizes, 18 mm, 28mm, 45mm, and 60mm. The one you need to start with is the 45mm. There are several manufacturers. I have used several different rotary cutters over the years. For years I used one that you could hold on to like scissors. That’s the one on the right side of the photo above, this style is considered more ergonomically correct.
For videos though I typically used a stick style rotary cutter because it was easier for people to see what I was doing. I upgraded to a Quilter’s Select rotary cutter. The reason I switched is that the QS rotary cutter has a bit of weight to it. That means I don’t have to push down as hard to make cuts. It has really helped with shoulder fatigue. It’s a personal choice which style you think will fit you the best.
A little side note about blades. You are going to have to replace them and don’t try to make a blade last after it has gotten dull. You are doing damage to your mat. Also, don’t go off-brand blades. They will tear up a mat in a heartbeat. You can get 5 Fiskars blades from Walmart for a good price, just buy those. Your mat and your fabric will thank you. The brand of your blades does not need to match the brand of the cutter that you use.
Rulers for Cutting Quilt Fabric
You will need a good 6 x 24, 6 x12, 12 x12, and 6 x 6 ruler to start quilting. There are a lot of different brands on the market and most are good, just be sure to stick to recognized brands, like OmniGrid, Creative Select, or Quilter’s Select.
I have slowly replaced my rulers with Quilter’s Select and they are holding up very well to almost daily use. I actually have two sets of most of them, one for myself and one for Paul. The reason they are my preferred brand is they have a texture on the back that keeps them from slipping making cutting fabric so much easier. If these rulers are not in your budget please check out our tips for stabilizing your rulers.
Quilting Tools Summary
If you are new to quilting be sure to head over to my new quilter pages. They are full of information to help you get off on the right foot in quilting. The quilting tools listed here are just the start of the journey you’ll want to know more about cutting fabric and making basic quilt blocks. If you are looking for an interactive experience check out our Facebook Page.